In order to pull off this top of the funnel B2B online marketing campaign, you need to attract leads into the funnel with a high quality, relevant content offer. So what does one of those look like?!
Selecting a Content Offer
As already mentioned, there are many kinds of content offers digital marketers choose to run with. However, at the top of the funnel, there are certain kinds of content that just make more sense and are generally agreed upon by pro marketers.
Tip sheets, checklists, educational how-to videos, and ebooks are all generally considered to be safe territory, and most would expand that list to include white papers, kits, and educational webinars as well.
When selecting an offer, I like to keep in mind another name for the sales funnel: the buyer’s journey. Through the buyer’s journey framework, the top of the funnel is known as the awareness stage for a potential customer.
In the awareness stage, your almost-leads know what their pain points are, and your job is to help further define the actual problem that’s manifesting itself through those pain points. Think of yourself as a doctor diagnosing an illness based on a patient’s presented symptoms.
As Marko Saric puts it:
The best thing you can do is to try and learn the most you can about the audience you are targeting. What questions do they have? What problems do they want to solve? What pain points do they want to get rid of? When you know what your audience wants, it becomes easier to speak and communicate to them and to create products (and landing pages) that fit them.
So, how do you find out what your target audience’s pain points are? Here’s how marketing pro Roger Huang from Springboard figures that out:
I reverse engineer user needs for different persona types by hanging out where they hang out and seeing what content trends. Subreddits on Reddit are the perfect places to see this in action: you get to see your target audience vote on what matters to them. Infer what user needs are being met by studying trending content in these communities, then build a fantastic offering that speaks to those needs to make the perfect top of the funnel offer.
In the awareness stage, while some of the content offer types I listed a few paragraphs ago are easier fits than others, my viewpoint is that any content that educates without selling will work just fine. Yep, that’s right — no talking about your product or service just yet.
Joshua Ho told us, “Remember your buyer is in the early stages of research. Keep in mind they don’t know nearly as much about your topic as you do, so don’t go too deep into the weeds that they will lack the context of your insights.”
He’s right. They’re strangers. They don’t care. This is the time to talk about them and what brought them to you in the first place.
Targeting Your Lead Magnet
Beyond making sure that your content offer is appropriate for the top of the funnel, you want to make sure it’s targeted. You’re going to want to revisit your brand-related notes here.
As you brainstorm topics and content types, you want to hone in on something that makes sense for who your audience is. You’ll base this on well-researched, thoroughly developed personas — hypothetical profiles of the type of person most likely to do business with you (that you also want to do business with).
If you have determined that one of your personas is a busy female executive who isn’t into professional sports and has a busy home life with two children under 10, she may not be too keen on reading a 45-page ebook that includes ample humor about bachelor life, tips around happy hour and other social outings, and sports analogies. But if your persona is a junior executive and former high school jock in his mid-20s who is single with an active social life, he’ll appreciate that kind of content and start identifying with your brand because of it.
Of course, your offer needs to be aligned with your business strategy too. And while you don’t want a content offer that talks about your company, products, or services until further into the funnel, your offer at the top of the funnel needs to have some kind of connection to what your company does.
A good way to do that is to pick an offer that speaks to the pain point(s) your product or service relieves.
Here’s an example. A checklist of ten ways to increase sales, while of interest to my usual audience, wouldn’t be the right kind of content to offer. It would be a dead end for me to write about on my company blog because we offer marketing support, not sales support and related services. Also, because my expertise falls into a category other than sales, the content wouldn’t be authoritative and as helpful as it could be.
Instead, my top of the funnel offer could be a checklist of ten things to do to increase traffic to every blog post. Lack of traffic is a pain point many of our clients and leads struggle with, caused (usually) because folks don’t promote their blog posts.
Creating a Content Offer
While your lead magnet doesn’t necessarily need to be a content offer (a free consultation or software trial could also serve as lead magnets), these are probably the most popular. Relatively inexpensive and easy to produce, targeted, on-brand, funnel stage-appropriate content offers tend to convert relatively well, making them a solid choice for your B2B online marketing campaign.
If you have the resources to have an offer created for you – whether in-house, by an outside agency, or by freelancers – awesome! That makes life a lot easier. Just be sure to provide a creative brief to ensure that whatever is being developed does what you intend it to do and provides rich, high value information. Also, stay involved with the process to make sure it’s headed in the right direction, and speak up if something doesn’t seem on-brand, like it’s a good fit, or like it’s well done. And be ready to provide input and feedback when asked.
Most B2B content offers coming from small businesses and solopreneurs end up being a bit more DIY. Even if you make it yourself, it should still look polished and professional. I recommend using a design tool like Canva and asking someone you trust to proofread and provide feedback — an amateurish layout and typos galore won’t get you the results you’re after.